Jerome Eskeets was able to break free and run from the attack that killed his cousin and a man he knew only as Cowboy. Credit Mark Holm for The New York Times
Jerome Eskeets’s last sight before he fell asleep on a soiled mattress late on Friday, on an empty lot speckled by shards of liquor bottles and discarded syringes, was the stars that glistened up above — “a beautiful thing,” he recalled this week, drunk, already, at 9:30 a.m. A cousin lay next to him that night, their bodies warmed by the cheap vodka they had shared. It had been “a good night,” Mr. Eskeets said, until he felt a dull pain on the bridge of his nose, a punch by one of the masked assailants that surrounded them.
“Cowards,” Mr. Eskeets exclaimed on Tuesday as he stood by the scene of the crime.
The assailants kicked and beat them, Mr. Eskeets said, using their hands and whatever else they could find — a metal pipe, wooden sticks, cinder blocks. Mr. Eskeets eventually broke free and ran away. His cousin, whose name he said was Al Gorman, and another homeless man he knew only as Cowboy, ended up dead. The police said they had both been disfigured beyond recognition by the thrashing, which included having their heads smashed repeatedly with the cinder blocks.
Mr. Eskeets — who said he was Navajo, like the men killed over the weekend — said that the teenagers had set upon him once before, last week or maybe the prior week, but that he had threatened them with an empty beer bottle and they had fled.
“I never told no one because no one cares,” he said flatly.
Since the attack, Mr. Eskeets has struggled to make sense of what happened. “Those boys knew me,” he said, his eyes filling with tears. “They called me Skeets.”
Read the New York Times article here: Violent Attacks on Homeless in Albuquerque Expose City’s Ills
A state senator wants to make the homeless a protected class, and this sort of crime a hate crime.
State senator wants ‘homeless hate crime’ law
Were the deadly beatings of two homeless men in Albuquerque a hate crime?
Under federal law, the answer is no. That’s true for most states, too.
But one state senator thinks New Mexico should step up and be a leader.
It’s state Sen. Bill O’Neill’s personal story that makes what happened over the weekend so powerful for him.
In New Mexico, crimes targeting the homeless are not considered hate crimes.
“We as a state can make a real strong declaration that our homeless people are not to be targeted,” O’Neill said.
O’Neill says they should be — and it comes from a personal place.
He used to volunteer at St. Martin’s Hospitality Center. That’s where he made a dear friend.
“This is Frank Ellis,” he said, holding a picture of a man he knew decades ago. “Man, he would come into the shelter just all bruised and battered.”
“He was my friend,” he said.
Last year, O’Neill’s homeless hate crime legislation passed two bipartisan committees unanimously, but it never made the floor for a vote.
This year, with Frank and the murders of Thompson and Gorman in mind, he plans to introduce it again.
There’s video at the link too.
The President of the Navajo Nation, Ben Shelly, and other Navajo leaders met with the Mayor of Albuquerque, Richard Berry, to discuss the beating deaths.
Navajo Nation leaders met with Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry on Thursday to discuss the beating deaths of two homeless men last Saturday.
The tribe has confirmed both of the victims, Al Gorman of Shiprock and Kee Thompson of Church Rock, were Navajo.
Ben Shelly, president of the Navajo Nation, calls it a senseless crime.
Prosecutors plan to try the 15 and 16-year-old suspects, Gilbert Tafoya and Nathaniel Carrillo, as adults. The third teen, Alex Rios, is 18.
Here’s a press release from President Shelly.
The teens allegedly attacked more than 50 other homeless people in the Albuquerque area.